George W. Bush: ‘No need to defend myself’

Former President George W. Bush said he feels “no need to defend himself” over the high-profile decisions that marked his two terms in office, saying he will leave those judgments to history.

“There's no need to defend myself,” Bush said in an interview with USA Today. “I did what I did and ultimately history will judge.”

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Bush, along with President Obama and former Presidents Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Carter, will be on hand to open the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas on Thursday.

Bush described the center as “a place to lay out the facts” behind his major policy decisions, including the decision to invade Iraq after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, not as a place that will explain or defend the actual policies.

Visitors to the library will be able to assess “the decisions that I had to make and the recommendations I received” at a “decision points theater,” according to Bush. In addition to the Iraq war and troop surge, the theater will focus on his handling of the 2008 financial collapse and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

In an interview conducted before last Monday’s Boston Marathon bombings, Bush said terrorism should still be a primary concern for the federal government.

“It's apparent that time is quickly dimming our memories,” Bush said of 9/11. “Evil exists still in the form of people who murder innocent people to advance a point of view.”

“The lessons of 9/11 are as profound today as they were then,” he added.

Bush has taken up painting in his private time – a fact that became known after a hacker exposed some of his private emails. The former president said it helps to keep him “mellow,” and that he’s content in his new life outside of public view.

“I'm happy to be out of the limelight. I truly am,” he said. “My life is obviously much simpler than it was in the past, but in many ways the simplicity creates contentment.”

“Some people get confused about my desire not to have the klieg lights shining on me, but eight years is plenty to be in the lights,” he said.

In an interview last week, the former president also expressed hopes that his brother, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) would run for president. 

Asked if the nation was “ready for another Bush” in the Oval Office, he responded, “That’s for Jeb to figure out.”

“I would hope that people would judge, if Jeb were to run, on his merits and his track record,” said Bush, adding, “I hope he will run.”

His brother Jeb Bush has said he would weigh a 2016 GOP presidential bid and is seen as a prime contender for the nomination.